Sunday, November 18, 2007

the third wheel

There is so much about the triplet dynamic that I am learning, everyday.

With three children who are the exact same age, a full-fledged "mob mentality" can rapidly go in to effect. Our children very seldom look to Charlie and I for guidance or approval, they look to one another, probably because there are more of "them" then there are of "us."

Last week, I showed the children how to play with sidewalk chalk. "Here, look - we are drawing a rainbow!"

The kids are interested and involved. But then Carolyn who was drawing her own rainbow notices William who is coloring on the side of the house and Elizabeth who is throwing her chalk on the ground and smashing it to smithereens. I didn't notice this, of course, because I was too focused on the correct sequence of ROYGBIV.

But Carolyn notices. And since both of these options look like much more fun then coloring on the ground, within a matter of minutes, the back of our house is scribbled with light blue and yellow and there are shards of pink, orange and green chalk across the patio.

We rotate our play to the sandbox. I'm showing the children how to make sandcastles. They are happy and involved. I need to run in to the house to use the bathroom and will be gone no more than two minutes. In that time, I vaguely notice a sound but pay it no mind. As I'm walking back to the yard, it dawns on me that the sound I hear is our garden hose.

Cranked on high.

In the 120 seconds that I've been absent, the kids have filled their sandbox with at least 10 gallons of water and are now doing cannonballs off the side. I'm annoyed and wish that if the kids were going to hijack the hose, they could have at least washed the chalk scribbles off the back of our house.

Over the past few days, I've become more and more aware that when the children are playing (or destroying things, as is usually the case), two is company but three is a crowd.

The children will be engrossed in pulling every flower off plants in the side yard and Elizabeth will be shoved out. Moments later, Carolyn and William take off skipping through the yard, throwing chunks of bark in the air - and if Elizabeth comes near, they'll push her down and run away.

People have told me that this is just a phase. Still, it breaks my heart.

It absolutely pains me to see my little girl cry because her feelings are hurt. And as much as I detest when the kids are destructive, this week I have found myself, arm in arm with Elizabeth, showing my teary-eyed daughter how to snap off the newly bloomed Bird-of-Paradise flowers and write with chalk on the screens.

While Carolyn and William play together, Elizabeth has become my shadow. I am her new best friend and will remain as such, until the triplet dynamic shifts.

It might serve me well if I use this opportunity to teach her how to fold laundry...


  1. Beautiful family you have. I just found your blog through another.

    Teache her while you got her attention, just like I'm sure you do with all your children.

    I would love to be a honeybee on your wall when it comes to their Birthdays, how fun!


  2. that would make me sad too. i have a deep "thing" within my soul for the outcast kid and it makes me hurt every time I see it...or in this case hear of it...I hope that they include her soon. I think that JMom of the triplets might have had the same issue a little bit with hers...might ask if she has any suggestions?

  3. isn't it amazing how providentially opportunities come about to spend one on one with our triplets?
    three cheers to you for siezing the opportunity. my 4 yr. old trips. just started preschool 3 days a week six weeks ago and because they're catching every "bug" out there there have been only two days all of them have gone. i usually have at least one home with me.
    i was able to recover from the shattering of my expectation to have 3 days of bliss when i began to realize that having 1 or two with me throughout the day was actually good for one on one or two on one time and after managing four without preschool one or two little tag alongs has actually been enjoyable!
    your blog inspires me daily to press on with renewed appreciation for the gift each child is as i hear of your similar adventures and the grace with which you handle them.

  4. I see the "third wheel" mentality within my three as well, but my third is usually okay with coming in and out of the activity that her sisters are doing. I do worry about it as they get older and hope that I am able to teach them how to take care of each other! I thought the pictures in this post looked really vibrant...must be that new camera!

  5. Jen- the dynamics will change when Henry gets older. There really is something to the third wheel and it really has an effect on triplets. It's something I've talked about to my triplet mom friends on many, many occasions. But you've been blessed with a fourth wheel. And that fourth little wheel is going to make two pairs. Just like we have. As soon as he can walk, he's going to become one of the pack, just like Austin did and once you have even numbers, it all works out. That's why when you wanted another one, I thought, "OMG, she can't have FIVE, she'll have to have SIX then. Because you can't have an odd man out!" So make the next one twins. Then you'll be fine!

  6. Michele: The discussion regarding “another one” is alive and well at our house. Although it's kind of a one-sided discussion. I talk and Charlie just stares at me like I've grown two heads. BUT, twins?? That would be crazy ... because then I’d have to have ANOTHER baby, so that Henry isn’t the only singleton in the group.

    I very well might end up with an airport shuttle bus, after all...

  7. oh man, your comment to michelle had me rolling! i can just imagine charlie's face...especially after you tell him someone is telling you to "try for" (as if you can) twins...he might make you stop blogging--maybe you shouldn't tell him that :)
    you are so funny. i do think though that maybe elizabeth will be henry's buddy or william and henry will get along once he isn't always on your chest :)

  8. It is certainly true that number four evens things out. My Annie becomes instant buddy to the "left-out triplet of the day."

    And I'm still in awe that you are contemplating another! You are an amazing woman with stamina! I can't quite fathom a number five!!! Oooh, I get goose bumbs just uttering the the thought!

  9. we only have the trips ... but when we get problems we get told 'it's not that you have too many, it's that you haven't got enough!' i've noticed that en masse they start setting up their own primitive society after a while, in our case complete with spears which they like to fashion out of sticks... (and we still get the 2 + 1 dynamic too; the one 'left out' just keeps changing round).

  10. I wonder how you got along so well. You were almost an only child.